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A week after four Lakewood police officers were shot and killed in the line of duty in 2009, the Seattle Seahawks asked the loudest fans in the NFL to observe a moment of silence to honor the fallen heroes.
It was Dec. 6, 2009, and the Seahawks were playing the San Francisco 49ers at home.
“Ladies and gentleman,” the public address announcer began. “Recently, the Pacific Northwest and indeed our entire nation were shocked and saddened by the loss of four Lakewood police officers. Our hearts and our prayers go out to their families, their friends and their colleagues.”
The crowd fell silent and four bells rang out in the stadium in remembrance of Officers Tina Griswold, Gregory Richards, Ronnie Owens, and Sgt. Mark Renninger, who were shot the Sunday before while sitting in a Parkland coffee shop.
“It was a very difficult time in St. Louis a week ago when we were hearing the stories coming out of the Lakewood area as we were broadcasting that Rams game,” Seahawks play-by-play announcer Steve Raible said during the Dec. 6 broadcast.
On the sideline for the 49ers game, at the invitation of the Seahawks organization, were family members of the fallen officers and members of the Lakewood Police Department.
“It took some of that pain away for a short time, having players come up to you and thank you for what you do,” said Sgt. Mike Eakes, who was there. “The fans were just incredible to us. I remember going out to my patrol car after the game and there were thank you notes all over my patrol car.”
He recalled how Head Coach Jim Mora wore a Lakewood Police Department hat during the game, despite the fact that it didn’t meet the NFL’s strict clothing guidelines. Tod Leiweke, the Seahawks CEO at the time, led the officers in a prayer.
“It meant a lot. It’s something I will never forget,” Sgt. Eakes said.
Lakewood PD wanted to do something to thank the Seahawks for the support during that difficult time, so Animal Control Officer Bill Mathies, a lifelong Seahawks fan, asked Chief Bret Farrar if the department could get together for a 12th man photo.
“I mentioned to the chief about a week ago, ‘Hey, why don’t we get together? They were there supporting us in our time of need. Let’s reach out to them and just show them that we all really appreciate everything they’ve done for our community.'”
Chief Farrar loved the idea.
“As the years have gone by, we take every opportunity we can to thank people that were there for us in our darkest hour,” he said. “This is a perfect opportunity for us to reach out to the Seahawks organization, which is just a class act, and thank them.”